Unfortunately, I am disappointed and quite frustrated to report that I will no longer be presenting at Pecha Kucha Orlando’s Volume 6.
The first PK Orlando Night I attended was in February, and we’re talking death-by-bulletpoint visuals; tiny and yet somehow still pixellated Google images; people turning their backs to the audience; people reading their speech; and other poor public speaking practices. After seeing the event, I realized PK Orlando needed one of two things: either 1) presentation coaching to help strengthen the actual presentations (the central focus of the event) or 2) organizers with a solid foundation in public speaking and presentation and a more clear understanding of a “good “presentation.
Chiara Ojeda and I teach the PK model in class. Combined, we have more than 5 years of PK experience and have seen more than 5,000 PK presentations. Chiara sent an email offering our free, expert coaching advise for the presenters, but it was a no-go. Despite the fact that both of us want to see the event flourish and be something really, really great, PK Orlando felt February’s event went very well without much need for improvement.
I then decided I would present my own PK in the hopes of setting an example for what the event should be. After my initial conversation with PK Orlando, however, I knew in my gut that things weren’t going to work out. There was a complete lack of awareness about effective presentations and too much emphasis on the amount of people in attendance. The focus of a presentation-centered organization should be to ensure those speeches are as strong as possible; however, it’s more about the recognition and the numbers for PK Orlando. Again, I should have known to just opt out after the first phone call. We discussed my topic, and my proposal was accepted. Next, however, I received a 20 minute lecture on 1) the importance of sending in a script because it’s always easier for PK Orlando to cut chunks and paragraphs as opposed to having too little of the speech written out and 2) the PK format and its challenges.
Being a polite person, I didn’t interrupt or correct (a script?!) but instead swallowed my frustration and again resolved to deliver one amazing PK. However, after my second phone conversation with PK Orlando this week, I knew it was over.
During this follow-up call, PK Orlando asked me how I found out about the event. I explained my experience with PK and my job as a college instructor of Professional Communication and Presentation. The conversation quickly turned to PK Orlando’s disappointment in my title. The suggestion was that I come up with something mysterious so that attendees wouldn’t know what I was planning to talk about. Baffled, I said I would work on my title. Secondly, I was advised to make my presentation just like 3 previous PK Volume 5 presenters. When I asked how I was to go about doing that, I didn’t receive any specifics. I asked, “Do you want me to create a story-centered presentation?” I was told that content didn’t really matter that much. My jaw dropped to the floor. Next, I was asked to tell as many people as possible about the event. I was asked to hang up flyers and publicize the event.
In my head, I tried to process everything I’d just heard: The content of the presentation didn’t matter. The title needed to be mysterious, my presentation needed to be similar to February’s PKs (but no specifics as to how, why, and what, specifically), and the important part was getting as many people as possible to attend the event.
That, my Creating Communication friends, led to a rare “Alex Is Done” moment.
It would be so nice to have a presentation organization in the Orlando community run by actual presenters: people committed to public speaking and presentation; people concerned with applying the philosophy of Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte; people immersed in presentation culture and insistent on speeches that use all three legs of Jim Endicott’s three-legged stool metaphor.
Should I try to improve PK Orlando to become the organization it should be? Should I deliver my PK in another city? What advice can you give me?